Campaigns Opinion

What will a Hung Parliament do to Renting?

General Election 2017
John Stewart
Written by John Stewart

The votes have been cast and the dust has settled on an unnecessary snap election. And just like the Brexit referendum it had an unpleasant and unexpected sting for the Prime Minister.

The Conservatives have emerged bruised, but still the largest party, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn surprisingly resurgent, the Scottish Nationalists battered from all sides, the Lib Dems flat-lining and UKIP defunct.

Instead of bolstering her majority and authority, Theresa May now finds herself with no majority at all, and reliant on Northern Ireland – namely to the demands of the 10 Democratic Unionist MPs, and perennial absence of the 7 Sinn Fein MPs.

The already complex Brexit process is now a lot more difficult, and any hope of a resolution to the stalemate in Stormont’s devolved administration looks remote.

The Conservatives look set to continue in government, and Theresa May as Prime Minister for the time being at least, but face a much more difficult time in trying to force through Brexit legislation, finance, and welfare measures.

This will clearly have a knock-on effect on other legislation, as priorities compete for diminishing time in the parliamentary schedule.

Having already seen the demise of the housing minister at the polls, it could also mean the end for a raft of housing proposals.

The housing white paper, launched in February, was met with a sense of disappointment and could be an early casualty. A number of its limited aims might be met through secondary legislation, avoiding the need to clog up the floor of the Commons.

This could be welcome news for the PRS. While there was little new in the white paper affecting private renting, a fresh bill would be an open door for Labour amendments pushing for further regulation.

With no majority, a Conservative housing minister might have been tempted to compromise on key areas such as mandatory longer term tenancies, relaxing restrictions on local licensing, or an acceleration of the banning of agent fees charged to tenants.

The sector also faces uncertainty over the implementation of the minimum energy efficiency standards due to take effect next April, and the extension of mandatory licensing of HMOs and minimum room sizes.

In terms of investment, rather than resolving some of the uncertainty created by calling a snap election, the result may simply add to it. We’ve already seen the housing market stall following a combination of tax raids and Brexit, and steps may need to be taken to kickstart the market. Traditionally, a relaxation of SDLT has been a favourite tool in the past.

The Queen’s Speech in ten days time will give an early indication of what might need to be sacrificed as a result of a gamble that has backfired spectacularly.

About the author

John Stewart

John Stewart

John is the Policy Manager for the RLA. He has over 20 years experience working in politics, as a successful election agent, MP’s assistant, local councillor and council leader, and is a former charity chief executive.

He oversees RLA policy work across all levels of government – central, devolved and local – working to ensure that landlords’ views are represented and officials, MPs, Assembly Members and local councillors have key information and evidence about the PRS before they take decisions.

3 Comments

  • Now that that election is over ,i would be intrigued to know how Landlords voted in response to the Tax changes that were imposed on us in this new tax year.
    We keep hearing how Brexit,NHS,Education etc were deciding factors in the election,but did the 2 million landlords and their immediate family have any factor in the election?

    • For me personally it didn’t make any material difference really and the reason for that is that although the Tories brought in the punitive tax raids on landlords, I wasn’t convinced that Labour would either be any better, or be willing to reverse that decision. In fact I suspect the opposite would be true and Labour would be keen to extend those measures in some way.

      It will be interesting see the long term affects on the housing market over the next 5-10 years and if a significant shortage in rental properties materialises as a result of the changes. I suspect it will and at some point we may see a reversal in the stamp duty change. I’m not expecting the changes to mortgage interest relief to be reversed however.

    • Although I have been a life-time voter for the Tories, I was so incensed with the punitive taxation laws they have introduced I vowed not to vote for them this time – although still hoping they would win the election, but with a much smaller majority.
      I considered voting for the Lib Dems but then saw they wanted to legalise cannabis, and being very anti drugs, this was a no no for me; so ended up voting for the Green Party; I have very strong views on green issues which they align with – even though their housing policy sucks just as much as the other parties do, so voted for the Green Party at the GE.
      I think we have a good situation now with a hung parliament, as the Tories won’t be able to bull doze so many of their ‘less good’ policies through, but will face more questioning and challenges; but time will tell!

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